Tuckerman Snowpack and Avalanche Obs

By Helon Hoffer | MWAC

Date of Observation: February 20, 2020  4:00 PM
Location of Observation: Tuckerman Ravine

I observed significant avalanche debris on the floor of Tuckerman. This probably occurred Tuesday/Wednesday. The only visible crown was high in Left Gully. Considering the amount of debris, I would guess the Headwall avalanched during the cycle and then reloaded.

Traveling just above Connection Cache, I mostly encountered firm wind slab, (pencil hard). At times, this allowed no boot penetration. On other locations, I could get boot top penetration, such as the photo below, which shows layers of pencil hard wind slab with 4F weaker layers. I found little energy to propagate, as did another party I encountered who looked below Hillman’s and in the Lower Snowfields.


Snowpack observations are one part of the complex puzzle which is your decision to enter avalanche terrain. Some observations may include stability tests. It’s important to understand that the results of a stability tests are seldom conclusive anywhere, but particularly in snow climates and terrain like ours where the primary driver of instabilities is wind drifted snow. Many stability tests exist and each works best with specific avalanche problem types. Stability test results should never be used alone as an indication that a slope or conditions are safe particularly when more obvious red flags are present. Please use this page as part of your information gathering process, but don’t make decisions based on a single piece of information. A good article that summarizes some of the issues associated with snow and avalanche observations can be found here.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center cannot verify the quality or accuracy of any observations that come from the general public.


See an avalanche or evidence of previous avalanche activity?  Near-miss? Snowpack observations?

Your observations are valuable to an accurate forecast! We welcome observations from everyone. You don’t need to be an avalanche professional to submit helpful observations, just be as detailed and accurate as you can.